A Full Day’s Stroll Down Luxurious Las Olas (On A Budget!)

Last week, I took a little leap from the old comfort zone and headed out on my first short solo trip to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  My boyfriend and I have traveled the United States for years together, so I felt confident I could get myself to and from the airport and my Airbnb and audition site rather easily, but what was I going to do with myself for 12+ hours of daylight I had to kill?!  Pulling from my old touring actor routine, I downloaded Tripadvisor from the cloud and started researching.  I didn’t want to rent a car, and Las Olas Boulevard quickly presented itself as a walkable area of town with some historical sights, art, and little to no chain restaurants.  Armed with a few ideas bookmarked in my iPhone and a super heavy carry-on (thanks cute shoes that weigh 15 lbs), I set off.  But not before a hearty airport mimosa… I mean breakfast.

Nacho Hippo @ Myrtle Beach International always does me right!
Nacho Hippo @ Myrtle Beach International always does me right!

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Bye Myrtle!! Wait…. I have to fly over the ocean?! Guess I better pay attention to the seat flotation section of the announcement…

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I had learned in my research that Ft. Lauderdale has been called the “Venice of the America” because of the beautiful canals that run throughout the city. Since I’m blogging honestly, I’ll tell you I kind of forgot about that until we began our descent.  How gorgeous! After landing around 10AM, I took a cab directly from the airport to Las Olas (about a 15 minute ride which was $28 with tip). My cabbie dropped me off right in from of the Cheesecake Factory, smack dab in the middle of Las Olas Boulevard.  Unfortunately, nothing in the area seemed to open until 11AM, so I utilized this opportunity for a swelting 45 minute self-guided tour. Gotta make lemonade right? My makeup was definitely ruined for the day, but I got to experience the beauty of the city before it seemed to be awake. Floridians like their sleep!

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I mean, come ON! These folks know how to live.  After my sweaty expedition, I stopped in at La Bonne Crepe for some delicious Nutella & banana crepes and a Bellini. I used their free wifi to reexamine my bookmarks now that I had my bearings and decided to set out for the NSU Art Museum, about a half a mile’s walk in the opposite direction than I’d gone that morning.  Along the way, I checked out a few of the cute boutiques I’d read about.  I saw a lot of preppy beach styles I loved, but most were overpriced for this thriftinista (I did my shopping at the mall….oops!).

The museum ended up being under renovations, so the regular admission ($12) was waived in favor of donations during my visit.  I throughly enjoyed the two exhibits which were available – a collection of William J. Klacken’s modernist paintings and portraits of noteable and normal humans by face-blind artist Chuck Close.  Both exhibitions were excellent and every docent I encountered at this museum was extremely friendly and helpful.  Highly recommend a visit, just don’t tell them about the fobidden photos I snapped!!

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After all that culture and rule breaking, I needed some grub.  I wandered into American Social for a delicious salad and great service from the sweet bartender. She even watched my backpack and let me charge my phone.  Girl power! The only drawback here was the loud party taking up half of the restaurant, but I still enjoyed myself.  If you’re a beer aficionado, you can serve yourself here from 6 tap tables!

Next up was the Historic Stranahan House Museum, located right around the corner on the New River.  Tickets for this gorgeous southern mansion were a bargain at $12. It is my greatest regret as a history buff that I didn’t take any pictures here, but I can only blame that on the fact that I was too enthralled by our wonderful guide’s stories of the past to dig out my phone.  That’s a purely good and rare thing these days.  But really, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed and learned from this tour of “the house that built Ft. Lauderdale”. I met a sweet young couple from New Jersey who were so much fun, and it was definitely a high point of the trip.

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My very last stop on my day at Las Olas Boulevard was Havanna Republic Cigars to pick up a little souvenir for my honey.  Can you tell I was already missing him? The gentleman was very helpful and kind.  Now by this time, I was more than ready to Uber to my Airbnb and just order some GrubHub (Holy Millenial!) but if you’re looking for a happy hour or dinner spot, I’d recommend Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar.

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Rocco’s caught my eye as I was walking by on my morning trek with their bright and fun decor.  Their review seem pretty consistent and really what can go wrong with margaritas and tacos?!  I’d give them a try for sure.

In addition to activities I’ve listed, you could easily while away hours admiring that beautiful street art that decorates the area as well as the classic Spanish-influenced architecture and modern high-rises which are just cool looking.  Thanks for an entertaining, thought-provoking and mildly painful (blisters, ouch!) day, Las Olas.

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